I’ve got that Friday feeling. A British voice inside my head insists that Fridays are for going out after work and letting a couple of beers turn into a full-on night out (with compulsory junk food finale). Saturday nights are for getting on your glad rags and drinking too much again. Sundays should be spent nursing multiple hangovers and indulging in a curative cholestorol fest of English breakfast.
None of the above really work in Paris. First things first, the curative breakfast (because if you have been paying attention, you can’t fail to have noticed that I’m somewhat food-obsessed): what the French call ‘bacon’ is thinly cut round pieces of bacony ham which are not intended for cooking. And you can’t really make a good fry up with lardons (cubes of bacon). So a fry-up as an antidote to alcohol overindulgence is out.
As for Friday drinking with your work colleagues, there appears to be an unwritten rule of social etiquette in this country: thou shalt not mix thy social life with thy work life. I find this is a real pity, because alcohol (even in moderation) can break down so many barriers, and seeing your co-workers socially gives you a chance to get to know them as people. But unless there is an official company pot to celebrate someone’s promotion or give them a send off, it’s pretty hard to get the French involved in any after work drinking. This is one of the reasons why most of my friends tend to be anglo-saxons, with the odd French alcoholic thrown in.
Now for the drinking part. Drinking is done differently in France. Most people don’t go out drinking with the sole aim of getting drunk. You might go to a bar for a couple of drinks and a chat, but as drinks are served at your table, you will drink less whether you like it or not as it’s impossible to get the skinny, aloof and overworked waitresses’ attention. Drinks are prohibitively expensive in bars and restaurants, which doesn’t help matters. You do tend to take your time over 25cl of lager when it has cost you four euros. In any event you are unlikely to spend a whole evening with French people just drinking. It is far more likely that you’ll have an apéro together before a meal, or a drink afterwards.
Turning to the glad rags, most of the bars I frequent(ed) are full of people dressed very casually. Before you don that cheeky little number from Miss Selfridge which shows swathes of bare flesh, note that the sleazy single men propping up the bar will treat you as if you have a ‘desperate to get laid’ sticker on your forehead and you will spend the evening fighting off their unwelcome advances (“tu as des beaux yeux, tu sais..”). Safer to stick with something understated, preferably in black.
Finally, if you are female then you should be aware that drinking to excess is considered very unfeminine in this country. I have, on occasion, mostly in situations where alcohol was flowing freely at a party in someone’s apartment, made something of a spectacle of myself by drinking like an English person and getting what I would describe as ‘moderately lairy’. The Frog promptly marched me off the premises and still refers to such episodes several years later. I’m not saying this is fair or right (it’s blatant sexism and makes my blood boil), but like it or not, that is the way things are here.
So, if I can’t shake this Friday feeling, I’ll have no option but to hop on a Eurostar after work. Anyone fancy a couple of pints?